Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival opens after four-year wait

The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival opens this Thursday after a lengthy wait for audiences and organisers.
 The biennial festival began in 1997 and was set to open on 9 September 2010 but was cancelled due to the earthquake that struck Canterbury five days before. A scaled-down version was organized for 2011, which again had to be abandoned due to lack of venues after the February quake.

“This is the biggest literary event in the South Island and we’ve been waiting for it since 2008!” says Festival Director Marianne Hargreaves. “There’s a strong sense of relief to finally be opening, as well as excitement about the calibre of the writers we’ve got. This is a different city now that’s shown a willingness to embrace new things and we think the variety we have on offer caters to that.

This year’s big drawcards include top international writers Joanne Harris-left- (UK), author of Chocolat; John Boyne (Ireland), author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; John Lanchester (UK), novelist and financial commentator; Antarctic scientist and author Chris Turney (UK/AUS), author Chris Cleave (UK) and Kate Grenville (Australia). There is also a strong line-up of New Zealand writers, including Emily Perkins, 
Tim Wilson, Laurence Fearnley, Joe Bennett, Nicky Hager, Nicky Pellegrino (right), and Anne Perry biographer, Joanne Drayton.

The programme covers chaired discussions, a crime debate featuring Lianne Dalziell MP and Queen’s Counsel Chris McVeigh, a sold-out afternoon tea with restaurant pioneer Fleur Sullivan, writers workshops, a schools programme, performance and visual art.
Many of the writers are also taking part in a PechaKucha night on the Thursday, for a more informal and irreverent introduction to their work with the standard PechaKucha-style presentations of 20 slides for 20 seconds each.

Hargreaves says the festival has had great sales but urges people to come down to Hagley Park to check out all the fuss.There truly is something for anyone who’s a fan of good storytelling.

The festival will run for four days from 30 August to 2 September based in the Geo Dome at North Hagley Park and tickets are priced at just $16. For the full programme and details, visit

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